Effective connectivity analysis of the brain network in drivers during actual driving using near-infrared spectroscopy

Zhian Liu, Ming Zhang, Gongcheng Xu, Congcong Huo, Qitao Tan, Zengyong Li, Quan Yuan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Driving a vehicle is a complex activity that requires high-level brain functions. This study aimed to assess the change in effective connectivity (EC) between the prefrontal cortex (PFC), motor-related areas (MA) and vision-related areas (VA) in the brain network among the resting, simple-driving and car-following states. Twelve young male right-handed adults were recruited to participate in an actual driving experiment. The brain delta [HbO2] signals were continuously recorded using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) instruments. The conditional Granger causality (GC) analysis, which is a data-driven method that can explore the causal interactions among different brain areas, was performed to evaluate the EC. The results demonstrated that the hemodynamic activity level of the brain increased with an increase in the cognitive workload. The connection strength among PFC, MA and VA increased from the resting state to the simple-driving state, whereas the connection strength relatively decreased during the car-following task. The PFC in EC appeared as the causal target, while the MA and VA appeared as the causal sources. However, l-MA turned into causal targets with the subtask of car-following. These findings indicate that the hemodynamic activity level of the cerebral cortex increases linearly with increasing cognitive workload. The EC of the brain network can be strengthened by a cognitive workload, but also can be weakened by a superfluous cognitive workload such as driving with subtasks.
Original languageEnglish
Article number211
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2017


  • Actual driving
  • Cognitive workload
  • Effective connectivity
  • Granger causality
  • Near-infrared spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Effective connectivity analysis of the brain network in drivers during actual driving using near-infrared spectroscopy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this